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Maha Shivratri

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Maha shivratri is a festival celebrated all across India according to hindu mithology. It is an annual festival celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva.

There is a Shivaratri in every luni-@solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month’s 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or Magha) and before the arrival of Summer, marks Maha Shivaratriwhich means “the Great Night of Shiva”.This is a festival mainly celebrated by the women from all over the country. This festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non-injury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. This festival is an ancient Hindu festival.

The Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night and is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples. The celebration includes maintaining a “jaagaran”, an all-night vigil and prayers, because Shaiva Hindus mark this night as “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in one’s life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga. In Shiva temples, “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Lord Shiva that is chanted throughout the day. Maha Shivaratri was the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world is what is considered true by a few Yogis. Different legends describe the significance of Maha Shivaratri. According to one legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva’s presence everywhere. According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. A different legend states that the offering to Shiva icons such as the linga is an annual occasion to get over past sins if any, to restart on a virtuous path and thereby reach Mount Kailasha and liberation.Maha Shivratri is usually observed by unmarried girls to find a suitable husband for them like Lord Shiva.The temples are decorated and the ceremony is performed throughout the night in 4 quaters. Each time Lord Shiva is fed with the bhog made up of five types of fruits and is covered with flowers and bathed with milk.The people who is performing the puja is not allowed to sleep since if they dream about food,the puja is considered unsuccessful.The fast which sould be observed for the puja to turn out to be successful should be “nirjala”(the person is not even allowed to drink water ).This is the festival celebrated in India. Maha Shivaratri is a National Holiday in Nepal and celebrated widely in temples all over the country, but especially in the Pashupatinath temple. Thousands of devotees visit the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham nearby as well.Holy rituals are performed all over the nation. Artists from various classical music and dance forms perform through the night. On Maha Shivaratri, married women pray for the well being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, considered as the ideal husband. Shiva is also worshipped as the Adi Guru (first teacher) from whom the yogic tradition originates. Maha Shivaratri is the main Hindu festival among the Shaiva Hindu diaspora from Nepal and India. In Indo-Caribbean communities, thousands of Hindus spend the auspicious night in over four hundred temples across the country, offering special jhalls (an offering of milk and curd, flowers, sugarcane and sweets) to Lord Shiva. In Mauritius, Hindus go on pilgrimage to Ganga Talao, a crater-lake.

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